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Old 03-01-07, 05:09 PM   #1
ratebeer
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"Smoking" revisited

The fact that Eddie Merckx smoked like a chimney immediately made some sense to me. A couple taps of the fingers found this... Effect of transdermal nicotine administration on exercise endurance in men. The short of it is that it wasn't smoking, it was nicotine, that was in part responsible for Merckx' legendary endurance. The positive effects of nicotine on endurance performance are probably very significant.

How addictive is nicotine when administered transdermally, buccally or orally? Probably, not very. Is nicotine a banned substance in professional cycling?
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Old 03-01-07, 06:07 PM   #2
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Nicotine causes chemical dependence regardless of the delivery method.

However, there are many other factors to addiction then just chemical dependence.

Other physical factors include:
-additives in most cigarettes to change nicotine absorption (make it faster, etc.). When I smoked regular cigarettes, I found myself creeping to a pack a day. When I rolled my own, it was easy to keep it to 5 a day, however quitting was still hard
-smoking vs absorprtion through mucus membrane have different effects. However, keep in mind that smokeless tobacco is much more addictive then cigarettes.

Psychological factors:
-availability. If something is easy to aquire, it can easily be 10X more addictive then if it is hard to come by. Other drugs touted as highly-addictive, "I have a friend" who has tried a few times, and never again without the slightest trouble, because he didn't hang around people who used those drugs often.

I don't have an addictive personality. When I was younger, I started smoking Nat Sherman's (high nicotine, but no other additives). I was addicted in about 3 days. It has been 3 months since my last cigarette, and it was surprisingly tough for me to quit.
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Old 03-01-07, 06:12 PM   #3
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I have no idea about your questions but your post made me think of a professor I used to work for. He said that when he was in law school he took up smoking because nicotine makes you smarter. According to him it makes the synapses fire faster and you can learn more, learn quicker, and recall better with nicotine in your system. And, freak that he is, he didn't get addicted and just quit when the bar exam was over.
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Old 03-01-07, 06:18 PM   #4
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Yes, Merckx did have some ads in Europe showing him smoking/endorsing a certain Euro brand of cigs.
Have met/chatted with him several times and never saw him indulge.
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Old 03-01-07, 07:10 PM   #5
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The experiment used 12 subjects. Some had Nicotine patches, some got the placebo. And I'm assuming that there were, at the very least, 3 getting the placebo (any less and that's not much of a control group - even 3 isn't much of a control group, actually). So, we have, at maximum, 9 subjects actually getting a true nicotine transderm patch. I'm not really familiar with these scientific studies, but that sounds like a really small number of subjects, doesn't it? Isn't it hard to reach any sort of meaningful conclusion with such a small number of subjects?
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Old 03-01-07, 07:17 PM   #6
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n=12 will not give a good enough confidence interval to learn anything particularly useful statistically. A study I worked on in college on adolescent social anxiety had over 1000 participants and got hammered on the amongst the "experts" for having too small a sample size.

An another note, take it from someone who smoked and quit cold turkey, but has fought a chewing addiction for 7 years (finally quit last December!)- chewing tobacco is WAY more addictive. Way more nicotine, more convenient, cleaner (depends on your perspective, I guess), etc.
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Old 03-01-07, 07:36 PM   #7
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FWIW, most addiction specialists believe route of administration is key factor for creating dependence, with faster delivery methods encouraging dependence. E.g. coca chewing in the Andes is not seen as being particularly addictive wheras crack cocaine is believed to be among the most addictive drugs. Cocaine is the drug used in both cases.
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Old 03-01-07, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeytoun
I don't have an addictive personality. When I was younger, I started smoking Nat Sherman's (high nicotine, but no other additives). I was addicted in about 3 days. It has been 3 months since my last cigarette, and it was surprisingly tough for me to quit.
Ironically, tobacco companies were cited for increasing habituation by *lowering* the amounts of nicotine in their cigarettes. The stronger US-native tobacco (rustica?) was not known to be addictive to indigenous peoples who drank and/or smoked it.

It's thought that BudMillerCoors employs a similar sales strategy. Why sell one full strength, full flavored beer when you can sell 24 weak, watery ones meant to be consumed sequentially?
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Old 03-01-07, 08:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
Ironically, tobacco companies were cited for increasing habituation by *lowering* the amounts of nicotine in their cigarettes. The stronger US-native tobacco (rustica?) was not known to be addictive to indigenous peoples who drank and/or smoked it.
Really? Because from what I've been reading (http://www.slate.com/id/2157849/), tobacco companies have been accussed of raising nicotine content in their cigarettes - an accusation that they vehemently deny.
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Old 03-01-07, 08:51 PM   #10
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Nicotine delivery through your toes?

I am a sub teacher at a high school where a large percentage (boys and girls) dip snuff. The school administration is trying to crack down on this bad habit, but they have run into a problem. Now the kids are buying snuff that comes in little packets. The packets are supposed to be positioned between the gum and the cheek, but teachers know how to detect this. So now, the kids are wetting the packets and positioning them between their toes, where the skin is thin and nicotine easily passes into the blood stream. Now we have to listen to squishing feet in the hallways of our noble school. What's a teacher to do?
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Old 03-01-07, 09:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
I am a sub teacher at a high school where a large percentage (boys and girls) dip snuff. The school administration is trying to crack down on this bad habit, but they have run into a problem. Now the kids are buying snuff that comes in little packets. The packets are supposed to be positioned between the gum and the cheek, but teachers know how to detect this. So now, the kids are wetting the packets and positioning them between their toes, where the skin is thin and nicotine easily passes into the blood stream. Now we have to listen to squishing feet in the hallways of our noble school. What's a teacher to do?
Make flip-flops mandatory school attire?

But seriously, how about sending a notice to the parents to be on the lookout for socks that are stained? Or maybe the parents just don't care?
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Old 03-01-07, 09:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
FWIW, most addiction specialists believe route of administration is key factor for creating dependence, with faster delivery methods encouraging dependence. E.g. coca chewing in the Andes is not seen as being particularly addictive wheras crack cocaine is believed to be among the most addictive drugs. Cocaine is the drug used in both cases.
For cigarettes, the addiction is both physical and mental. Physical from the nicotine, but mental from the oral fixation aspect of putting the cigarette in your mouth. It's much like nail biting or eating as stress to relieve stress.

The two habits together make quitting that much harder.
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Old 03-01-07, 11:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratebeer
FWIW, most addiction specialists believe route of administration is key factor for creating dependence, with faster delivery methods encouraging dependence. E.g. coca chewing in the Andes is not seen as being particularly addictive wheras crack cocaine is believed to be among the most addictive drugs. Cocaine is the drug used in both cases.
I forgot the most "potent" example -- methadone is itself a strong opiate analgesic. Yet it's used as a treatment for heroin addiction because methadone, which is taken orally, is easier to wean from than injected or inhaled heroin.
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Old 03-04-07, 09:12 PM   #14
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So the nicotine encreased his endurance... but didn't smoking really screw w/ his lungs?? I don't see how the endurace benefit outweighs the damage to his lungs. I think he was just a beast.
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Old 03-04-07, 09:30 PM   #15
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Funny, I gave up cigs because I liked cycling so much.

There is another effect of smoking-- that is it raises your heart rate. Seems like it might make it easier to do areobic training, because you'll get to "the zone" faster.
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Old 03-05-07, 08:18 AM   #16
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Sprocket Man: "...tobacco companies have been accussed of raising nicotine content in their cigarettes - an accusation that they vehemently deny."

This is sort of a yes and no accusation. What the tobacco companies have done is use parts of the plant that are marginal, and have insignificant nicotine content (roots, stems, etc.) to add bulk to the product. They pulp the entire plant down and make a sort of tobacco paper, which is then sprayed with a mixture of different chemicals. Some of these speed the burning, some have other roles, and there is also nicotine included to bump the tobacco back up to the level that regular all leaf tobacco would bring with it.

It is being supplemented with nicotine, but only because it's cheaper to use crap and add the chemical than it is to use the real thing, which has more nicotine in it all the same.
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Old 03-05-07, 04:48 PM   #17
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What is the point of all this?
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Old 03-05-07, 05:34 PM   #18
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What is the point of all this?
I'm the OP. The main point is that it's possible that nicotine is a performance-enhancing drug for cyclists.

A related discussion and point revolves around a small factoid learned in a college psychoactive pharm class -- that tobacco companies actually replaced Nicotania robusta with a tobacco blend lower in nicotine so that nicotine satiety was not a limiter of cigarette consumption. This weaker blend enabled chain smoking.

There have been other comments with real points as well.
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Old 03-05-07, 10:19 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by caloso
I have no idea about your questions but your post made me think of a professor I used to work for. He said that when he was in law school he took up smoking because nicotine makes you smarter. According to him it makes the synapses fire faster and you can learn more, learn quicker, and recall better with nicotine in your system. And, freak that he is, he didn't get addicted and just quit when the bar exam was over.
Real role model, that one. Tell your friends! Smoking helps you pass that exam! Woo!
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Old 03-06-07, 10:25 AM   #20
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The cognitive effect is not a myth, from what I understand it does aid in recall and learning ability.

Once you become addicted, the effect is less and less pronounced, but when you quit you definitely feel much more sluggish... it's as if the wheels are stuck in mud mentally. I have heard this anecdotally from a number of folks who quit. It takes a few months, but you do end up returning to normal.
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Old 03-06-07, 02:42 PM   #21
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ok so here's what you need to do. You see a hottie that is not smoking. You go up and be like, "excuse me theres no smoking in here" she'll be like, "I'm not smoking" you go, "YEA YOU ARE!". works every time. trust me on this one guys.
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Old 03-06-07, 03:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
I am a sub teacher at a high school where a large percentage (boys and girls) dip snuff. The school administration is trying to crack down on this bad habit, but they have run into a problem. Now the kids are buying snuff that comes in little packets. The packets are supposed to be positioned between the gum and the cheek, but teachers know how to detect this. So now, the kids are wetting the packets and positioning them between their toes, where the skin is thin and nicotine easily passes into the blood stream. Now we have to listen to squishing feet in the hallways of our noble school. What's a teacher to do?
I used to travel regularly to Cincinnati on business, and remember all the jokes I'd hear about the "stupid hillbillies" in nearby Kentucky...unfortunately, it sounds like there's a definite grain of truth to that stereotype.
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